Books. These things made out of black ink and dead trees. Or complicated appositions of 0s and 1s if you prefer the digital form.
Oh, how I loathed them when I was younger. They were forced down my throat by teachers because they were classics or because the teachers themselves had to read them. They made me come up with answers to questions that I didn‘t care about and write character summaries about boring deuteragonists.
I hated books. Give me video games I thought. Let me watch TV I shouted. And frankly, this is what I did. I never read in school. My Google skills were just too excellent. I cheated as hard as anyone could cheat. And well, it worked. No one ever realized. I am admitting it for the first time here. I hope my little sister doesn‘t read this. And if you do: READ THE FUCKING BOOKS!
When I left school, no one ever forced me to reread books. I could finally choose what to read, and stop if I hated the story.
I didn‘t. I didn't have the time. There were all these things to do and who even has time for something as unnecessary as reading. I certainly didn‘t. There were too many podcasts to listen to, TV shows to watch, movies to fall asleep to, games to play and, well, timelines to read. So many timelines. I pulled to refresh so many times.
I always liked learning. I love knowing things. It just took me years to realize. I had to leave school to know. Give me a subject I am interested in, and I will figure it out. But don't tell me how to do it. That is my job to decide.
One day I figured out that reading may be the best and fastest way to learn new things. That was the end of last year.
Today I finished the 27th book in this year alone. I became a reader. People now tell me they wished they had this much time and could finish that one book they started three months ago. Or how they envy me.
So let me tell you my secret because there totally is one (no, there isn't). But first:
Why do I read
It took me a while to realize but humanity, over the ages, collected a vast amount of knowledge and distilled most of it into one art form: books. There probably is no more significant source. Frankly, I even believe there to be more knowledge hidden in dead trees than in servers. Why else would Google want to scan every book ever written?
I like tapping into that knowledge. I like knowing things. Always did. That's how my ego works. And by reading, I can fill myself up with knowledge until I spill over. That is why I mostly read non-fiction.
I don't only read to learn. I also read to experience, I read to be entertained, I read to meditate. That is why I even read fiction.
How do I read that much
I read fast. But I am not a speed reader. I read every single word. If I realize that I didn't fully understand a paragraph I reread it. Still didn't get it? Reread! Nothing yet? Reread the paragraph before too because you haven't been paying attention. Still nothing? Yeah, well, maybe I should go to sleep.
I read a book a week. And yet it isn't enough. If I read a book a week for a year, I only read 52 books. 52!
Though you probably think I am insane. You can't even manage to read two in a month let alone one per week. But frankly, it isn't that difficult. There is no secret. You have to follow certain things:
Make time. Reading is not something you do when you have some free time because then you probably spend it on Instagram. It's a task. It's as essential as eating or exercising. You don't hope to find time to have lunch. You have lunch. So take a book with you wherever you go and make an effort to read. Be it at work, on public transport, or at home. Sit down, take your book and read. Lock your smartphone away while you do so. Read consciously, stop thinking about what your to-do-list or what food you'll have later. Or that FitBits are just like Tamagotchi except the stupid little creature you have to keep alive is yourself.
And at home, I have several more. Currently, 11 unread books are waiting for me. I preordered a couple more. You don't need that many but have at least two to follow up. Maybe one fiction and one non-fiction. So you can at least pick between the two.
But never read two books in a row about the same topic. Don't even read books in the same genre. It'll become boring fast.
And don't be afraid to stop reading. If it sucks, don't force yourself. Here is a rule I stole somewhere, though I can't remember where I got it from. Read 100 pages minus your age before you drop it. Give it a chance but don't waste your time. And why "minus your age" you ask? Well if you're sixty, you have fewer years to live than at thirty. Simple math.
What do I read
But all this won't help if you don't know what to read. So what should you read? Whatever the fuck you want. Anything that sparks your interest even slightly. Though you probably wanted to hear how to find books, right?
I mainly peruse reading lists made by people I follow. Be it Ryan Holiday, Patrick Rhone or Dan Sivers. And I try to find books suggested by the authors of books I read. Or books mentioned in other books. If you spend ten seconds looking for recommendations, you will find them everywhere.
Look, reading is essential. You know that. Until now you didn't bother. Or you came up with bullshit reasons not to read.
There is no secret, there is no hack, and there is no shortcut. Reading takes time and effort. It's an investment. And it's well worth it as every book will make you a better human.
And who knows, maybe one day people will ask you how the fuck you read that much.